A right to privacy is not enumarated in the Constitution but is found by extension of the 4th and 14th admendments. It protects us from government overreach.
A convergence of technology, corporations, and expanding laws are all helping to circumvent this right. I try not to wear a tinfoil hat, but this is one issue that has me reaching for it on a regular basis.
With rapid increases in technology, and a congress
seemingly working for corporate interests, where do our rights stand? Stated a different way: how much work are you willing to do to maintain your privacy? Do you care you will be living a fully public life? Just don't be a teacher. Arizona legislation to fire teachers for swearing
I don't think that the effort to fully coordinate this and run with it have been done yet, but I don't think that it would be too difficult either.
Most of the things I see as attacks are promoted as convience, safety, or savings. Just marketed to sell them to the public. If it is just for revenue, and lends itself to tracking, does it make it any less worrisome? If it is done for just corporate reasons, should I be reassured?
Recent legislation (SOPA and PIPA in particular) make me wonder how much we are willing to give up without a fight, and what creates opposition. Are we willing to give up that privacy to the government, a company, or some combination of the two?
I don't know which would be worse; the government or a corporation collecting and using this data. I just don't expect it to EVER be used in my favor.
Cases in Point:
1. Target. Target knows you are pregnant - Fixed Link
Crux of the story is that by tracking purchasing behaviour, Target can tell when you are pregnant. And Target now is mixing up their ads to try and disguise the fact that it has an 84.7% chance that it knows that you're pregnant.
2. Red light cameras. Red light cameras are all over in TX, my current abode. What gets you a ticket changes between cities (i.e. right or left hand turns on reds). Cities have been found reducing the length of yellow lights to increase tickets, which would not increase safety, but would increase revenue. (1) Cameras that have reduced revenue have been turned off and the city of Huston was sued by the company that runs their cameras because they wanted to turn them off.
3. Speed cameras. Family has seen them in the Southwest, and I've seen them in Illinois. The promoted reasons are for safety, but getting the a ticket weeks or months after the offense(s) does not have the same impact as an officer watching traffic or pulling over a motorist. If it is about saving lives, the impact is different than the talking point.
4. RF ID chips. They're supposed to be for turnpikes to simplify travel between point A and B. No more slowing down for booths and collectors. Now just zip through and the amount is automatically collected from a preset fund. That is tied to a bank account. In the surface this sounds wonderful.
But the tech is the scary part. A RF ID chip now tied to the car, why not put it in the license plate itself? No more need for red light cameras or speed cameras. Just use the RF ID. The same fund that is used for your tolls can be used for the speeding and red light fines. A sensor next to any road and tied into a state-wide database is all that is required.
4a. The tech is the same that you see in commercials of the young man walking through the store pocketing items, and then paying for them at the checkout quickly and easily. A convience to the store (security, reduced amount of cashiers, quicker checkouts), but with drawbacks of those active trackers. Those same RF ID chips are on all medicine, alchol, any other item you have. Tracking purchases could not have gotten easier. The technology can easily tell what is in your car, and can lead great amounts of info when data mined. Who needs a search warrant when an overpowered reader can tell if you've been purchasing suspicous amounts of allergy pills, or fertilizer, or, or, or...
5. Consumer tech. Smart phones and insurance plugs. Even without RF ID chips, people are still voluntarily handing over gobs of information about their driving patterns. Want a discount on your insurance, then prove you are a good driver. The insurance companies will track the mileage and the acceleration and braking forces of your car. The tech exists that lateral g's can also be measured. So avoiding the accident can now raise insurance as well as an accident itself! Or just let the cell phone companies do it instead. The tinfoil hat must be slipping, because I can't see what they would need with the info, but a smartphone can collect it all with an accelerator-monitor and GPS.
I don't think I have to be a Luddite. Stand alone GPS units normally didn't have any ability to send data, just to collect. So running a GPS is still possible without broadcasting all the information. The integration of all of the data and who collects it and what they can do it with it is my concern.
Like Nissan. One of the features reported of their GT-R was that the electronic top speed limiter could be removed when the car was on a race track. Nissan GTR speed limiter So the car knows where you are, and what you are doing. Is it recording? Can it be enough to invalidate a warranty? Why limit it to a track application, just measure the acceleration, speed, braking to see if the warranty can be voided.
Planting a GPS on a person of interest's car now seems low tech. The same RF ID chips that could be placed on a plate (or a body panel), and have the road report speeds and the like could be used to track location. The infrastructure requirements would be insane to start.
Or the tech could be used in reverse. The car can read the speed of the road and refuse to break the speed limit. That could create a far larger problem however, there would be a huge reduction in speeders, and the revenue they generate. The infrastructure would be far more diluted in this scenario.
(1) Source was a local news story in 2010, but Googling this refers to anti-camera sites. While I may agree with them, not always the best source.
* Edited 4/5/2012 to clean up punctuation and correct a word choice. No substance of the diary was changed.